A New Year week in Weardale

by backpackingbongos

We managed to bag ourselves a cheap cottage for the period between Christmas and New Year. This was in Weardale in County Durham, an area of high moorland in the North Pennines. The drive up on Boxing day was horrendous, the north of the country being deluged by rain and floods. The A1 was a world of spray and a couple of accidents, whilst the A roads were often hidden under water. The river Wear was a thunderous beast as we drove along the road through the valley to the village of Westgate, and our rather compact home for the week.

Myself and Reuben managed to get out and about on the hills most days, with Corrina joining us for half of them. The weather continued its mild, damp and cloudy theme, although the sun did occasionally put in an appearance. I have to say that I am rather smitten with this part of the North Pennines. It’s wild, rugged and empty once you climb onto the hills. Only two people were passed whilst out hiking. Here are a few phone pictures giving a flavour of the hills and dales.


The first morning dawned clear and crisp so I walked straight out the door and onto the hills. Under blue skies patches of mist were draped over the higher hills. This is looking towards Fendrith Hill.



The high moorland watershed between Weardale and Teesdale, again looking towards Fendrith Hill. I was on my way to the summit of Westernhope moor. The ground was very wet.



Heading back into Weardale above the hamlet of Brotherlee.



At the top of the Boltslaw incline is the ruin of the engine winding house, very atmospheric in the mist that plagued us that day.



Easy walking on the moors above Rookhope. My top tip when visiting Rookhope is not to park in the village hall car park. This now appears to be for the exclusive use of the nearby residents. The gate was locked when we got back and we had to go door knocking to find someone with a key…….



Corrina does not go into the hills with me very often so I promised her big views into Northumberland from the summit of Bolt’s Law. Visibility was down to a couple of hundred metres.



A very well camouflaged dog. He now has a flashing red light on his collar so we have at least a small chance of spotting him.



A golden dawn on the moors above Stanhope.



Summerhill Force in Teesdale was rather disappointing in its volume considering all the rain that had fallen.



However on the plus side you could walk behind it.



Atmospheric old mine workings alongside Rookhope burn.



Currick on the Northumberland / County Durham border.



A boggy trudge to Dead Stones from Killhope Cross.



Looking towards the shelter near the summit of Dead Stones. It looks like the roof could cave in at any moment.



Climbing out of West Allendale.



Ewe looking at me? Sheep keeping a close eye on Reuben in West Allendale.



Dark clouds building over the summit of Hard Rigg.



I stopped for a while on the summit of the A689 at Killhope Cross, at 623 metres it’s the highest A road in the country. The rain started to turn to snow.



The hills above Cowshill are full of the remnants of the lead mining industry.

17 Responses to “A New Year week in Weardale”

  1. A lovely area James, some very atmospheric photos too. How on earth did you manage to wangle some fine weather? The UK now has another season, the monsoon!!

    • I have been a good boy all year Dawn, hence the good weather 🙂 Actually the photos are deceptive, I did not take many when it was raining!

  2. I love it round there too. Before we got the van we used to regularly rent a cottage in Hamsterley and drive over there for walks. I sometimes think the whole of the North Pennines is one of the UK’s best kept secrets….

  3. Excellent. I love it up there. Peace, space, tranquillity.

  4. We have a guided walk next Wednesday around Middlehope Moor from Cowshill….. details on the Durham County Council website. Fully qualified, expert leader and ace navigator is in charge [koff] Nice pics by the way – interesting to see the Deadstone howff roof is still on – its been collapsing for 4 years now..

    • Is it lucky doing the navigation again Mike? It’s very nice round Cowshill, I did the slosh across the moors to Middlehope moor summit. Not sure how long the roof of the howff is going to last, the main beam is seriously splintered. I sat and had my sarnies in the porch.

  5. I love your picture of Fendrith Hill. The warm light of the grasses and the wide open sky, it is a sight to yearn for. The flooding must be scary at times. Glad it all went well.
    Happy New Year,

    • Thanks Hannah. There is some great countryside up in the North Pennines, miles of open spaces with just the birds and wind for company. Happy New Year to you.

  6. A rare sighting of the lesser known Mrs Bongo. I wonder why she doesn’t join you often in your tramps across lonely, cold wet, boggy – oh, hang on 🙂

    Great shots, looks like you managed to extract a little sunshine from the gloom

    • I really don’t understand why she does not like cold,wet and boggy moorland either, a complete mystery to me to be honest.

      Cheers Andy.

  7. Beautiful photos of a stunning area! Hoping to hike some of the paths with my 11yr old daughter soon!


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